The Chicago Cubs unveiled “Clark,” a backwards-cap wearing mascot dubbed “unbearably cute” in promotional literature, on Monday. By Tuesday, the long-suffering team’s fan base had reacted more like a hungry grizzly bear than a smiling teddy bear.
“THIS IS BRUTAL,” wrote Hardslide, an enthusiast of all-caps and the Cubs who boasts 50,680 posts on the team’s official MLB message board. “JUST BRUTAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS FRANCHISE DOES NOT NEED CUTE AND CUDDLY ANYMORE!!! HOW ABOUT A BEAR WITH SHARP LONG CLAWS OR SOMETHING A BIT MORE AGGRESSIVE?????”
Coming off a last place finish, the Cubs, their fans argue, need better players, not a mascot. “Come on guys this team needs to be tougher now not more stinking kid friendly,” rlaro1 wrote at the Cubs Committed message board. “[Cubs President] Theo [Epstein] on sports late night says cubs player need to be tough to play here. They should hire a heckler instead…. man I’m sick.”
Others depicted the mascot as a culture clash with traditionalist Wrigley Field, which turns 100 this year. Mascots and ivy don’t mix well, apparently. “Not a fan of it,” cubbies4Eva explained. “Part of the allure of Wrigley is it doesn’t have mascots and big screens and super loud music and all of that stuff. That Wrigley is just a memory now.”
The Cubs promise that “Clark” will not lead cheers from atop the dugout or otherwise distract from the game, describing a more subdued role for the anthropomorphic baby bear. That doesn’t satisfy Cubs diehards, who, after 106 years without winning a World Series, want a championship team and not a cartoon animal to distract them from not having a championship-caliber ball club. “Does the Cub mascot have to have such a wimpy look to him?” asked wretch31. “Does he have to look like he’s on the verge of tears? The marketing dept should be strung up for this. It’s ridiculous.”
But a few Cubs fans are also “Clark” fans, too. AllanofKaunas, whose posts run well into the five-digits at Cubs Committed, defended the mascot. “I like it,” the die-hard supporter responded to wretch31. “I guess it’s a matter of opinion. I like cute stuffed animals, and that is what it looks like. Who does not like Teddy Bears, other than you.”